CPP 519 The “Mature” Personality Theory Of Karen Horney, M.D.

Faculty: Dr. Ann-Marie Neale (Profile)


Dr. Karen Horney (pronounced Horn-eye) is one of the most prominent and well-respected psychiatrists, psychoanalytic therapists and personality theorists of the twentieth century. She is best known as one of the first psychoanalytic personality theorists to challenge the traditional (Freudian) psychoanalytic explanation for female personality development. In addition, Dr. Horney was a pioneer in the recognition that cultural influences are significant factors in understanding human development as well as subsequent behavior and motivation. She also differed from traditional psychoanalytic therapists in her emphasis on present day circumstances rather than childhood. Finally, Dr. Horney developed what has become known as her “Mature Theory,” in which she sought to explain and understand the origin of and treatment for what she called “basic anxiety,” a condition that she theorized originated in childhood and resulted in adult dysfunctional or neurotic behaviors. During her lifetime, psychoanalysts thought that neurosis was caused by repressed and unconscious memories. Today, the term “neurosis” is not used in psychiatric diagnosis. In today’s classification system, which is theory-free, neuroses are classified as Anxiety Disorders. Examples include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or Panic Disorder. It is also possible to see similarities between Karen Horney’s descriptions of neuroses and what are today known as Personality Disorders. This e-course will cover the basic concepts of Dr. Horney’s Mature Theory which has been called her most significant and unique contribution to psychoanalytic personality theory.

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